WEF futures gathering closes with new initiatives from UAE government

Updated 12 November 2017

WEF futures gathering closes with new initiatives from UAE government

DUBAI: The World Economic Forum (WEF) wound up its two-day brainstorming session on future policy with commitments to new initiatives in technology, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) by the government of the UAE.
The annual meeting of 700 thought-leaders from the WEF’s global future councils was formally closed by Mohammed Al-Gergawi, UAE minister for Cabinet affairs and the future, who announced a plan to develop a center for future readiness, and a global framework to assess progress toward it.
He also unveiled plans to create new positions as “future ambassadors” for the UAE, and to work towards global protocols for artificial intelligence and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — the WEF’s term for the rapid technological transformation of society and economies.
“This meeting is a key performance indicator for governments in the world. The commitment to the future continues to grow in momentum. A human-centric strategy, ministerial council and governance framework are now in place,” Al-Gergawi said.
He added that the Global Futures Councils would meet again to assess progress and decide on other initiatives next November. The WEF council on AI and robotics agreed to act as an adviser to the UAE’s new ministry for artificial intelligence.
The meeting also heard that young people in the Middle East expect a “massive disruption” to their lives and work patterns from changes in technology, but that many feel comfortable with living and working in an environment where robots exist alongside humans, according to a WEF survey.
The WEF polled 1,600 people between the ages of 18 and 35 in the summer, and found that 58 percent of them in the Middle East and North Africa expect to experience significant changes to their jobs and careers as a result of technological change, while 52 percent believe that studying and learning will be similarly affected. But 23 percent said they would trust a decision made by a robot on their behalf.
In the same survey, 24 percent of respondents said that they had shared a news article on the Internet or social media that they later learned was fake, with a further 17 percent admitting that they probably had done so without realizing it.
The gathering was told that the world’s cities have to become more active in influencing climate change policy, because they are responsible for 75 percent of global carbon emissions.
“Shanghai, Dhaka, Karachi, Hong Kong and Miami are literally going under water,” said Robert Muggah, research director of the Igarapé Institute, Brazil.
By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will be urbanized. Tokyo’s GDP is already greater than that of Russia, South Korea or Canada.
“If we get our cities right, we just might achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals and we may limp through the 21st century, but if we get our cities wrong — we’re doomed,” he added.
“Global decision-making remains dominated by nation states. It’s time to offer the cities a place at the negotiating table. Cities also need greater freedom to solve their own problems by focusing on becoming greener and smarter,” said Muggah.
Jean Marie Guehenno, chief executive of Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said that cities are becoming more fragile, and urban violence is on the rise in many parts of the world.
Regional rivalries in the Middle East and Asia have become more pressing. “A function of the retreat of the US is that all countries feel more on their own,” he added, warning that this rising violence, along with unprecedented levels of forced migration, were posing major risks to developing countries.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.